Petition to demolish flats

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UPROAR over the antisocial behaviour at Taghnevan’s Dingwell flats has prompted residents to start a petition for their destruction.

Locals have been holding meetings to discuss the ongoing issues associated with the flats, which they believe are a ‘dumping ground’ for problem cases.

Following an on-the-ground campaign as well as a successful online campaign, the locals have had meetings with the Northern Ireland Housing Executive to discuss the continuing problems of partying and drinking as well as violent and destructive behaviour by some residents of the flats as well as those visiting the flats.

One campaigner who preferred not to be named, said the situation had been better since the police began monitoring the area on a regular basis.

However, he said that it would be unsustainable for the PSNI to continue that level of policing and urged the NI Housing Executive as well as social services to have a more realistic approach on who is housed in Dingwell Flats.

While it is unknown who set up the Facebook site for Dingwell Flats, local community worker Paddy McMenamin said local people were fully behind the site as it has highlighted the problems in the community.

Mr McMenamin agreed that there had been some ease to the problems at the flats since the PSNI had increased their presence there but said it was a short term solution.

“The local people want the flats pulled down. That is the bottom line,” he said, adding that there needed to be a long term solution to the problem.

Mr McMenamin said when one anti-social element was thrown out, another one arrives. He said one suggestion was to renovate the flats into more family friendly homes.

And he said there needed to be a change in strategy by social services and the NIHE about allocating the flats to problem cases.

A spokesperson for NIHE said: “The Housing Executive will be arranging an interagency meeting urgently, which will include the PSNI, to discuss the ongoing anti-social behaviour (ASB) in this area. Our Craigavon District Manager also recently met with a local community representative to discuss the issue.

“We take our role in dealing with anti-social behaviour very seriously and have a number of measures at our disposal. These range from warning letters and mediation to Acceptable Behaviour Contracts, injunctions and Anti-Social Behaviour Orders. In more serious cases we may seek repossession of a property through the courts. Indeed, we have a number of ongoing ASB cases in this area which we are hoping to progress through to legal action.

“The Housing Executive currently has no plans to demolish the flats in Taghnevan because there remains a demand for them. However, we are considering the options available to us, including the possibility of providing physical barriers around the flats. We continue to listen to the concerns of local residents and will of course inform their representatives of any future proposals.

“We are working closely with the community and other relevant agencies to tackle this issue and would again ask local residents to report any anti-social behaviour to the Housing Executive or the PSNI so that appropriate action can be taken against those responsible.”